According to the Golden Legend, Saint Christopher was known for his incredible height. When a small child asked him to help him cross a river, Christopher carried him over his shoulder, before the child revealed himself as Christ. Piazzetta, together with Tiepolo, is one of the most important figurative painters in eighteenth-century Venice, known for his religious compositions. Because of his particular painting technique many of Piazzetta’s painting are today in poor condition and the color balance is altered.
[Italico Brass, Venice, by 1932–at least 1936]; ?[Mortimer Brandt, New York]; Adelaide Milton de Groot, New York (by 1941–d. 1967)
Springfield, Mass. Museum of Fine Arts. "Five Eighteenth-Century Venetians," December 6–20, 1934, no. 3 (lent by Jacques Seligmann).
City Art Museum of St. Louis. "Venetian Painting of the Eighteenth Century," March 1–31, 1936, no. 32 (lent through the courtesy of James St. L. O'Toole, New York).
Cleveland Museum of Art. "Twentieth Anniversary Exhibition," June 26–October 4, 1936, no. 163 (lent by Sig. Italico Brass, Venice).
Staten Island Community College. October 9–12, 1969, no catalogue?
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Venetian Paintings in the Metropolitan Museum," May 1–September 2, 1974, no catalogue.
Rodolfo Pallucchini. L'arte di Giovanni Battista Piazzetta. Bologna, 1934, pp. 41, 45–46 n. 7, fig. 47, as in the collection of Italico Brass, Venice; dates it about 1739–40; calls it an homage to Titian; mentions a derivation in the Slocovich collection, Trieste, brought to his attention by Giuseppe Fiocco.
Max Goering. "Halbfigurenbilder von G. B. Piazzetta." Kunst-Rundschau 48 (May–June 1940), pp. 55–59, ill., dates it between 1735 and 1740.
Rodolfo Pallucchini. Giovanni Battista Piazzetta. Rome, 1942, p. 13, pl. 21, incorrectly as still in the collection of Italico Brass; dates it shortly after 1727.
Harry B. Wehle. "The de Groot Collection." Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin 6 (June 1948), pp. 264, 267, ill.
Rodolfo Pallucchini. Piazzetta. Milan, 1956, p. 28, fig. 54, as in a private collection, USA; dates it to the early 1730s; notes that the head of Saint Christopher derives from that of Saint Francis of Paola (Accademia dei Concordi, Rovigo), which in turn repeats that of Abraham in the Sacrifice of Isaac (National Gallery, London).
Carlo Donzelli. I pittori veneti del Settecento. Florence, 1957, p. 188, erroneously lists it as still in the collection of Italico Brass.
Rodolfo Pallucchini. "Miscellanea Piazzettesca." Arte veneta 22 (1968), pp. 120, 128 n. 48, calls it a variant of an oval painting of Saint Joseph and the Christ Child (Národní Galerie, Prague), and notes Piazzetta's repetition of the figure of Saint Joseph in other works.
Federico Zeri with the assistance of Elizabeth E. Gardner. Italian Paintings: A Catalogue of the Collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Venetian School. New York, 1973, pp. 48–49, pl. 54, date it about 1730.
Howard Hibbard. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. New York, 1980, p. 352, fig. 632.
Adriano Mariuz inL'opera completa del Piazzetta. Milan, 1982, pp. 88–89, no. 59, ill., dates it to the 1730s; notes that a copy or replica of the head of Saint Christopher sold at auction at the Dorotheum, Vienna (March 15–17, 1956, no. 105).
Old Master & British Paintings: Evening Sale. Christie's, London. July 7, 2016, p. 154, under no. 36.
The composition derives from an oval painting by Piazzetta of Saint Joseph and the Christ Child (Národní Galerie, Prague). The head of Saint Christopher appears in a number of paintings of various saints by Piazzetta or his followers.
According to Mariuz (1982), a version of this picture showing only the head of Saint Christopher was sold at the Dorotheum, Vienna, March 15–17, 1956 (no. 105, oil on canvas, 33.5 x 27.5 cm).